By Jose Antonio Payet
European airlines are increasing flight capacity
Europe prepares for a busy summer season as vaccination campaigns continue and more people vaccinated against COVID-19. According to FlightGlobal, the number of planes parked on the continent for more than a week has more than halved between May and June as airlines prepare to take people on vacation.
According to the European Travel Commission, 56% of Europeans plan to travel this summer. While nearly 40% of respondents expect to do so within their own country, airlines have high hopes for leisure travel this summer as many passengers feel like getting on their way for the first time since the pandemic.
Iberia expects a busier summer period after a 40% capacity utilization rate in the first few months of 2021. The airline expects the demand to be significantly constrained, which will increase as the travel restrictions are lifted. For the summer, the airline has increased the number of frequencies from Spain to destinations in Italy and Greece.
Iberia has also resumed a number of services between Madrid and South America and will operate more than 90 weekly flights between Spain and Latin America. The airline flies 12 flights between Madrid and Mexico City and one daily flight each to Lima, Santiago de Chile, Bogota and Sao Paulo.
As Spain opens its borders to vaccinating travelers, more South American travelers are expected to travel to Spain on vacation. While vaccination rates remain sluggish in some countries, more South American passengers will be eligible to travel to Spain in the coming months as these rates rise. In addition, travelers who have benefited from vaccination tourism in the USA and the number is not small can travel to Spain with a vaccination certificate.
Air France also has big plans for the summer season in neighboring France. Throughout the summer, the airline will operate 81 seasonal routes, increasing capacity to Greece by almost 80% and to Portugal by almost 25%. For the long haul, as the French Antilles are opening up to tourists again; Air France will offer up to three flights a week from Paris-Orly to Pointe-à-Pitre in Guadeloupe, Fort-de-France in Martinique and Saint-Denis de la Reunión.
To this end, Air France is putting 22 aircraft back into service. A total of 181 Air France aircraft will be in service this summer, making up 90% of the fleet.
Lufthansa has meanwhile announced seasonal connections from Frankfurt, including Paphos in Cyprus, Rijeka in Croatia, Lamezia in Italy and Varna in Bulgaria. The German airline flies from Munich to destinations such as Jerez in Spain and Chania, Mykonos and Zakynthos in Greece.
The low-cost airline Eurowings of Lufthansa will be flying from Frankfurt to Anchorage, Punta Cana, Zanzibar in Tanzania with a stopover in Mombasa in Kenya from July 24th.